- 1 Medical School: Delayed Entry
- 2 How Best to Prepare your Medical School Application
- 3 Graduate Entry Medicine
- 4 Non-Scientific Backgrounds: Supporting Others with Diverse Life Experiences in Medical School
- 5 Studying Medicine as a Mature Student
- 6 Revamping Life Goals: Why People Decide to Pursue a Medical Career Later in Life
- 7 What’s the maximum age you can study medicine?
Applying for medicine can be a daunting task at any age. Not everyone decides to pursue medical school at 18 and many delay the decision to become a doctor until later in life.
Thus not everyone’s route to medical school is the same.
You may have already completed a degree at university, been working without higher education qualifications or even come from a non-scientific background.
While each of these scenarios will require a different approach in applying to medical schools, admission to medicine is possible with any of these backgrounds.
Medical School: Delayed Entry
Due to the norm of thousands of 18-year-olds leaving school and entering university life, applying as a mature student can make you feel as if you are going at it alone. Gaining a coveted space at medical school is indeed harder as a mature student, but more and more options are opening up to those who decide to undertake medical training later in life.
In fact medical schools are no longer allowed to block those over a certain age which has seen a surge in the number of applicants in their 40s and 50s. Remember you will be assessed on your drive to study medicine as well as your skill set, so do not be put off purely by your age or current qualifications.
How Best to Prepare your Medical School Application
We describe in the rest of the article the different routes of entry into medical school after 18, but there are a few core requirements to know. Academically each university will want to see strong ability in science and this of course either comes at degree or A-level standard and can also be assessed via the GAMSAT, which is an aptitude test.
Only a small number of universities accept the GAMSAT however. If you already have one science A-level, or have the time to study in the evenings to meet the minimum A-level requirements, this may be your fastest route to entry. Chemistry A-level is actually the most vital qualification with the obvious choice of biology A-level coming a close second. Check out our list of medical school A-level requirements.
Prepare yourself and your application by considering the following steps:
- Focus on Your Motivation: Medical schools are more interested in your motivation for studying medicine than your age. Be prepared to answer why you want to study medicine and why now.
- Volunteer: Volunteering in healthcare settings can be an essential aspect of your pre-medical education and a key element of your medical school application.
- Seek Support: Seek support from pre-medical advisors, mentors, and peers. They can provide you with guidance and support throughout the application process.
- Take Prerequisite Classes: If you haven’t taken the necessary prerequisite classes for medical school, take them at a community college or university.
- Prepare for the BMAT/UKCAT: The BMAT and UKCAT are a critical part of the medical school application process. Allocate enough time to prepare for one or both, take a course, and buy books to study on your own.
- Consider Studying Abroad: Studying abroad can help you broaden your horizons culturally and develop communication and understanding skills that are crucial in the medical field.
- Prepare for the MCAT Studying for the MCAT will give you the opportunity to apply to the American Medical School system. Bear in mind they are different exams so don’t take them together! The qualifications aren’t really transferable either, so only do it if you want to be an MD.
Will Studying Medicine fit with My Life?
This is an important question to ask yourself before going any further with the application process. Ignoring the demands and requirements of the job you will still need to dedicate 4 to 5 years of your life to a high-intensity degree program. The majority of your peers on the course will also be 18-year-olds with only a handful of mature students to socialise with.
You need to be aware if you have a family that in the later years of medical school you will be required to commute to various hospitals within a certain area. This area can vary wildly in size being relatively small for London based medical schools but covering the whole of Wales for Cardiff Medical School.
Graduate Entry Medicine
Graduate Entry Medicine seems to be the most usual route via which people study medicine at a later stage in life.
Most universities’ admissions expect applicants to have a first degree in a science subject, achieving at least an upper second class honours.
Recently, there’s been a shift towards accepting humanities degrees, but it’s best to contact the university to confirm before submitting your application.
Since candidates are expected to have a robust scientific background, Graduate Entry Medicine programs usually span a shorter four years.
It’s more feasible to apply if you hold an undergraduate or higher degree in a scientific field; however, you’re still eligible to apply for undergraduate, full-length courses lasting five years.
The following medical schools currently offer a graduate entry programme into medicine:
Non-Scientific Backgrounds: Supporting Others with Diverse Life Experiences in Medical School
As mentioned, there’s been a shift in the UK to support those with non-scientific backgrounds, such as humanities, in pursuing a career in medicine later in life. You’ll still be expected to have a strong interest in science and articulate your motivation to become a doctor, considering your humanities background. Some individuals might have scientific qualifications that may not meet the requirements for medical school applications. If that’s the case, you can take additional exams or enrol in a foundation degree at specific universities.
Foundation courses in medicine, sometimes known as pre-clinical years, offer a supportive environment for those with diverse life experiences and are available at several UK medical schools. These institutions include:
Studying Medicine as a Mature Student
Some applicants who have the drive to become a mature medical student followed a path which did not include gaining a university degree or at times A-levels.
To diversify the background of medical school applicants there are a number of Access to Medicine courses available. These courses are usually held at a local college rather than a university, with the results being accepted by many medical schools as a valid qualification.
This is still a developing area in the med school application space so requirements and eligibility criteria can vary from school to school and year to year. When reviewing courses make sure to contact the course providers as information posted online can at times be out of date.
Finances can at times be a concern, however access to medicine courses are designed with accessibility in mind and reduced fees are commonplace for those eligible.
If you want to know more about applying to medical school, get in touch or leave a comment below with any questions you may have.
Revamping Life Goals: Why People Decide to Pursue a Medical Career Later in Life
Becoming a doctor later in life is a realistic option for many, and there are many reasons why someone might choose to pursue this path. You likely have more than one reason, I know I did!
It’s likely that you’ll have multiple motivations for pursuing a medical career at this stage, and it’s important to be able to articulate these clearly in your Medicine Personal Statement or Medical School Interview. Consider the following reasons if they apply to you:
- Different Priorities: You may have had different priorities earlier, such as a spouse or children, but now feel you’re in a better position to succeed in medicine, prompting your application.
- Emotional Intelligence: Research indicates that emotional intelligence increases with age, which is beneficial for doctors who need to communicate effectively with patients.
- Maturity: Pursuing a medical career later in life brings more maturity to the field, an advantage when working in intense and stressful environments.
- Desire to Help Marginalised Individuals: You might be drawn to medicine because of a calling to help others, having had direct experience of health disparities that need addressing in your personal or professional life.
- Fascination with Medicine: The human body is an incredible subject to study, and medical students and doctors get to examine it with the most innovative technology. Passion for medicine can grow from exposure and experience, not just from an early age.
- Trust and Respect: Doctors, as trusted and respected members of society, can positively influence the lives of their patients. With advancements in A.I., the human touch will become even more important in the coming years.
- Career Growth: The medical field continually grows, with new advancements and opportunities for career growth. You may already work in healthcare but want to unlock opportunities only accessible to medical doctors.
- Personal Fulfilment: Being a doctor provides not only deeply meaningful changes to patients’ lives but also immediate feedback to the practitioner. Other professions with equally important impact may lack this immediate and tangible feedback from patients.
- Never a Dull Moment: Physicians interact with various people and ailments every day, ensuring there’s never a dull moment in medicine. Like other emergency services, it requires skill and attention in the most demanding of circumstances.
- Desire to Give Back: Some people enter medicine due to a desire to give back to society and help those in need. This typically stems from a unique experience – just ensure you’re not one of those ‘my grandparent died, so now I want to be a doctor’ applicants!
What’s the maximum age you can study medicine?
There is no maximum age to study medicine in the UK.
Medical schools in the UK do not impose an upper age limit for applications to study medicine. Any ‘limit’ will be based on aptitude, motivation and likelihood of completing the course.
Mature students who are in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s are commonly accepted by medical schools. While there are no age restrictions, older applicants should consider the implications of seeking to enter the profession at their current stage of life.
If you are considering studying medicine in the UK and are worried about your age, you should not be concerned as long as you have determination!
Assuming you meet the minimum age requirement, you can apply to medical school at any age and pursue your dreams of becoming a doctor.
The Age-Old Debate: How Does Acquired Life Experience Influence Success as a Doctor?
There’s an age-old debate about whether life experience can positively influence someone’s success as a doctor.
When considering becoming a doctor, one might wonder if their acquired life experience will work to their advantage or if their age will become a hindrance in this competitive field.
Some argue that younger doctors have an edge due to their slightly increased ability to learn and retain the latest medical knowledge while others claim that having diverse life experiences can be invaluable in becoming a well-rounded doctor.
This article can’t end the debate into how one’s acquired life experience can potentially make them more successful as a doctor – needless to say maturity will always bring its advantages.